Billionaire Eli Broad decided long ago that one of his missions in life would be to privatize public schools, even though he and his wife are graduates of Michigan public schools. He has never explained his passion to stamp out the institution that educated him. He has spent years funding organizations committed to diverting public dollars to private hands. I once was invited to meet him in his glamorous penthouse apartment in New York City, and he explained that he didn’t know anything about education, but he knew management. He believes that non-educators should run education, especially if they surround themselves with people who have degrees in business and business experience. When I was on the board of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, he funded a “manifesto” declaring that principals should be managers, not educators. He started a Superintendents Academy to train urban superintendents in his philosophy. A startling number of his graduates have failed or been driven out by the local community. He has learned nothing from the failure of his business ideology in education. But children are not widgets. He doesn’t understand that.

This is the man behind the candidacy of Nick Melvoin for the Los Angeles school board, the man who wants to replace Steve Zimmer and has unleashed a barrage of negative ads.

A parent, Tracy Bartley, received a letter from Broad that was part of a mass mailing that his organization sent to everyone in Steve Zimmer’s district. Tracy is a parent activist who has spent years developing school gardens. She is for real. Unlike Eli Broad, she is committed to improving the Los Angeles public schools, not closing or privatizing them.unlike Eli Broad, her children are students in the public schools he wants to control and privatize.

Tracy wrote:

Eli Broad
2121 Avenue of the Stars
L.A., CA 90067

Dear Eli,

Enough IS enough.

Since you last wrote to me encouraging me to vote for Nick Melvoin for LAUSD school board, I have doubled down on my own research into the claims you’ve made regarding Steve Zimmer and his opponent.

– While Nick Melvoin has earned endorsements of a FORMER Senator, FORMER Secretary of Education, and two (!) FORMER Mayors of Los Angeles, Steve Zimmer has been endorsed by our CURRENT Mayor Eric Garcetti, a strong and smart CURRENT Congresswoman Maxine Waters, CURRENT Secretary of Instruction for the State of California Tom Torlakson, and numerous others including activist Dolores Huerta, and public education policy activists Jonathan Kozol and Diane Ravitch. (Full list here: These are the leaders taking us forward in Los Angeles, in California, and across the country, and I am impressed that they want Steve Zimmer fighting alongside them.

– Studying Nick Melvoin’s LinkedIn profile, it appears that he “worked in the Obama Administration” as a White House intern for four months as well as a turn as a clerk at the ACLU for four months. Contrast this with Zimmer, who spent 17 years at LAUSD schools and the last eight working as a tireless advocate for our kids as our school board member, fighting for them in Sacramento and Washington.

– I wouldn’t expect anything less from Nick than having a “genuine and selfless commitment to children, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, special needs or socio-economic class.” This is L.A. after all! (I love my city!) And I am sure you would agree Steve Zimmer has the same commitment. Along with the endorsement of the Stonewall Democratic Club, Planned Parenthood, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights… Steve Zimmer has a proven track record on this front.

– I struggle with the “Nick is a teacher” bit I’m afraid. I don’t feel 2 years a teacher makes. My mom was a teacher. I should say IS – because I think it is a calling rather than a profession 95% of the time. Steve Zimmer IS a teacher. I’ve witnessed his past students interacting with him at events. I’ve seen how he greets students at our community schools. It is very much who he is. I don’t get that from Mr. Melvoin. If he was a teacher, he’d be a teacher. (Yes – there is the adjunct position at LMU – though from my research it appears this is not a current gig, and was a special situation through TFA, am I right?)

So, you tell me we “need a school board member who will advocate for our children. who will strengthen our public schools ,and who will work tirelessly on behalf of families to make sure every child receives a world-class education.” I’ve found that. It is Steve Zimmer. You say he is supported by “special interests and bureaucracy” but I see it as 35,000 teachers alongside labor groups that work to ensure our schools are safe, clean, healthy environments for our kids to learn in. I see people doing much with little funding. I see communities forming around neighborhood schools. I see my LAUSD family. On the other side, I see a half dozen or so billionaires with a specific privatization agenda backing the special interests behind Nick Melvoin. I’m not ok with that.

As for a candidate who will work against the new administration that “preys on our fears… and engages in reckless information…” I will not “allow the election of our school board – the stewards of our children’s future – to be determined by damaging falsehoods.” I will continue to dig, and I fear learn more about the incentive for you, and the others in the privatization movement backing Mr. Melvoin. I’ve already learned of Doris Fisher’s (The Gap) support of Tea Party and Conservative candidates as well as her funding the opposition to Prop 30 (!), and Alice Walton’s (Walmart) donations to the privatization efforts of Betsy DeVos and the PAC supporting the election of Donald Trump. With you, and others, they are both supporters of Nick Melvoin’s campaign via the CCSA / Parent Teacher Alliance.

So, today, my husband and I will sign on again to volunteer for Steve Zimmer’s campaign. We will walk our community. We will call our neighbors. We will encourage them to cast their ballot for the best candidate for all LAUSD kids – for all LAUSD families.

Steve Zimmer for School Board 2017

Thank you,
Proud LAUSD Mom

p.s. Looks like you spent $131,708.60 on printing and postage for your letters! What this could’ve done for a neighborhood school orchestra, or a school garden, community school park, or to fund an outdoor education experience! Oh well.

It’s your money.

It’s our kids.